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Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. 


Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. By Dr. George Grove, Editor 
of "A Dictionary of Music and Musicians." Price 15 cents. 

Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. By G-. A. Ma.cfarren, Prin- 
cipal of the Royal Academy of Music, London. Price 15 cents. 

Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. By Dr. George Grove. 
Price 25 cents. 


Beethoven's Eighth Symphony. By Dr. George Grove. 
Also an Analysis of the Ninth Symphony. 

GEORGE H. ELLIS, Publisher, 

141 Franklin Street, Boston. 


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Symphony, Ho. z, in p (Bajop, (Op. 


Poco sostenuto; Vivace. 


Presto ; Presto meno assai. 

Finale: Allegro con brio. 

Among Beethoven's eight Symphonies — for the 
Ninth stands on a different pedestal, and soars into a 
higher heaven than any of the others-^- there are 
some which seem to occur more readily to the mind 
when the words " Symphony " and " Beethoven " are 
named. By their size, if by nothing else, the Eroica 
and the No. 7 acquire a kind of pre-eminence, and 
the hearing of them is always an event ; while the 
C minor has an abrupt force and originality about its 
opening, and a gorgeous splendor and keen senti- 
ment in its last movements, which lift it as high as 
either of the two just named. It is a rare thing for 
Beethoven to mention his compositions in terms 
either of praise or blame, but he has made an excep- 
tion in favor of the Seventh Symphony. He names 
it on two occasions, first in a letter to Salomon as 
" the Grand Symphony in A, one of my very best," 

a nd again i n an English letter to Neate, in London, 
in which occur the words, " among my best works, 
which I can boldly say of the Symphony in A." ■ 
""ATconsiderable interval had occurred since the 
completion of the Pastoral Symphony, No. 6 in the 
list. It was finished in 1807, and four years passed 
before he gave birth to another, however many he 
may have contemplated and made notes for in the 
interval. Of the circumstances which led, or may 
have led, to its peculiar form and coloring, we know 
nothing. M. Berlioz, with all his devotion to the 
great master, and keen appreciation of his power and 
beauties, not always the safest guide, would have us 
believe that the first movement is a Rustic Wed- 
ding, and therefore, we are to suppose, drawn from 
the same scenes of village mirth that suggested the 
dance in the Pastoral Symphony. But why run after 
such a will-o'-the-wisp ? Beethoven has granted us 
no. indication of his meaning ; and we will not seek 
one, but will enjoy the splendid music that he has 
provided, and the images that it raises in our imagi- 
nation, without preoccupation or restraint. 

All that we know of the history of the work is 
that it was written in the early part of the year 18 12 ; 
the original manuscript, in the possession of the 
Mendelssohn family, bearing the autograph date 
" 13th May." It remained for a year and a half in 
manuscript, and was first performed in the large hall 

of the University in Vienna, on the 8th December, 
1 813, at a concert undertaken by Malzel for the ben- 
efit of the soldiers wounded at the battle of Hanau, 
where the Austrian and Bavarian armies endeavored 
to cut off Napoleon's retreat from Leipzig. Much 
enthusiasm was felt in Vienna on the subject of the 
concert, and every one was eager to lend a helping 
hand. The programme consisted of three numbers : 
the Symphony in A, described as "entirely new" ; 
two Marches performed by Malzel' s mechanical 
trumpet, with full orchestral accompaniment ; and a 
second grand instrumental composition by " Herr van 
Beethoven," the so-called " Battle of Vittoria" (op. 
91). Beethoven conducted the performance in per- 
son, hardly, perhaps, to its advantage, as he was at 
that time very deaf, and heard what was going on 
around him only with great difficulty. The orchestra 
presented an unusual appearance, many of the desks 
being tenanted by the most famous musicians and 
composers of the day. Haydn was gone to his rest ; 
but Romberg, Spohr, Mayseder, and Dragonetti were 
present, and played among the rank and file of the 
Strings ; Hummel and Meyerbeer (of whom Beetho- 
ven complained that he always came in after the 
beat) had the Drums ; and Moscheles, then a youth 
of nineteen, the Cymbals. Even Beethoven's old 
teacher, Kapellmeister Salieri, was there, "giving 
the time to the drums and salvos." There was a 


black-haired, sallow, thick-set, short-sighted lad of fif- 
teen in Vienna at that time, named Franz Schubert, 
son of a parish schoolmaster in the suburbs, and him- 
self but just out of school, who had finished his own 
first Symphony only six weeks before ; and we may 
depend upon it that he was somewhere in the room, 
though at that time too shy or too insignificant to 
take a part, or be mentioned in any of the accounts. 
The performance, says Spohr, was " quite masterly," 
the new works were both received with enthusiasm, 
the slow movement of the Symphony was encored, 
and the success of the concert extraordinary. Bee- 
thoven was so much gratified as to write a letter of 
thanks to all the performers. The concert was re- 
peated on the 1 2th December, with equal success, 
including the encore of the Allegretto; and the Sym- 
phony was played again on the 2d of January, as 
well as on the 27th of February, when it was accom- 
panied by its twin brother, No. 8 (op. 93, dated Octo- 
ber, 18 12). The two were published together in De- 
cember, 1 8 16. 

It was the good fortune of a young Austrian 
named Gloggl, afterward an eminent publisher, to 
accompany Beethoven from his house to the concert 
room, on the occasion of the second performance ; 
and we are able, through his account, to catch a 
glimpse of the composer in somewhat novel circum- 
stances. Gloggl had made his acquaintance some 

time before, and had been admitted to the rehearsals 
and had witnessed a little scene between the fiddlers 
and the great master. ."A passage in the Symphony 
was too much for them, and, after two or three at- 
tempts, they stopped, and were bold enough to say 
that what could not be played should not be written. 
Beethoven, wonderful to relate, kept his temper, and, 
with unusual forbearance, " begged the gentlemen to 
take their parts home with them," promising that, 
with a little practice, the passage would go well 
enough. He was right. At the next rehearsal, it 
went perfectly, and a good deal of laughing and 
complimenting took place, j But to return to our 
young Austrian. The tickets for the second per- 
formance were all sold ; and Gloggl would have been 
shut out, if Beethoven had not told him to call at his 
lodgings at half-past ten in the morning. They got 
into a carriage together, with the scores of the Sym- 
phony and the " Battle of Vittoria" ; but nothing was 
said on the road, Beethoven being quite absorbed in 
what was coming, and showing where his thoughts 
were by now and then beating time with his hand. 
Schumann * thought that Weber would probably be 
easier to talk to than Beethoven, and no doubt he 
had his unapproachable moments. Arrived at the 
hall, Gloggl was ordered to take the scores under his 
arm and follow; and thus he passed in, found a place 

♦Gesammelte Schriften, i., 203. 


somewhere, and heard the whole concert without 

This is the only one of his nine Symphonies for 
which Beethoven chose the key of A ; indeed, it is 
his only great orchestral work in that key. Mozart, 
too, would seem to have avoided this key for orches- 
tral compositions ; out of his forty-nine Symphonies, 
only two being in A ; and of his twenty-three Over- 
tures, only one, the " Oca del Cairo.*' Of nine Sym- 
phonies of Schubert and five of Schumann (includ- 
ing the Overture, Scherzo, and Finale), not one is in 
this key. But, on the other hand, of Mendelssohn's 
five published Symphonies, one, the Scotch, is in A 
minor; another, the Italian, in A major. Beethoven 
had his idiosyncrasies on the subject of keys. B 
minor he calls a " black key " (schwarze Tonart) ; and 
he wrote to his Scotch publisher, who had sent him 
an air marked "Amoroso," in four flats, to say that 
the key of four flats should rather be marked Barba- 
rescOy and that he had altered the signature accord- 

In form, the Seventh Symphony varies in no essen- 
tial respect from the accepted model. In the Scherzo 
alone is there any variation of moment ; namely, the 
repetition of the Trio, which is played twice, instead 

*This is one of the many new anecdotes in the third volume of Thayer's excel- 
lent Life of Beethoven. 


of once, as usual, — an innovation which, by the way, 
Beethoven had already made in his No. 4, in B-flat, 
and which increases the length of the movement to 
nearly double what it would have been under the 
original plan. Here, and in the Eighth, the sister 
Symphony now before us, has Beethoven substituted 
an Allegretto for the usual Andante or Larghetto ; 
but, beyond the name, the two Allegrettos have no 
likeness whatever. It is not in any innovation on 
form or on precedent of arrangement that the great- 
ness of the Seventh Symphony consists, but in t he 
originality, vivacity, power, and beauty of the 
thoughts, and in a certain romantic character of sud- 
den and unexpected transition which pervades it, and 
which would as fairly entitle it to be called the Ro- 
mantic Symphony as its companions are to be 
called the Heroic and the Pastoral, if only Beetho- 
ven had so indicated it, which he has not. 

This noble work opens with an introduction, Poco 
sostenuto, far surpassing in dimensions, as well as in 
breadth and grandeur of style, those of 'the First, 
Second, and even Fourth Symphonies, the only oth- 
ers of the immortal nine which exhibit that feature. 
This introduction is a wonderfully grand, impressive 
movement, and may be compared to a vast and 
stately portico or hall, leading to the great galleries, 
corridors, and apartments of a magnificent palace. 


What a splendid development does this noble and 
varied structure present, of the few bars of prelude 
with which Haydn introduces the first movements 
of his greatest Symphonies, or which Beethoven 
himself prefixed to his First ! The introduction 
starts with a short chord of A from the full orchestra, 
which lets drop, as it were, a melodious phrase in the 
First Oboe, imitated successively in the Clarinet, 
Horn, and Bassoon: — 

poco soste?nito. 

No. 1. 

This, after eight bars (by which time it has for a 
moment entered the remote key of F major), is in- 
terrupted and accompanied by a new feature, — 
scales of two octaves in length, like gigantic stairs, 
as some one has called them, and alternating with 
the phrase in minims : — 


This conducts to a third entirely new subject, in 
the key of C major, given out by the Flutes, Oboes, 
and Bassoons, thus: — 
No. 3. 



The dignity, originality, and grace of this third 
theme, especially when repeated pici7iissimo by the 
Fiddles, with a graceful descending arpeggio to intro- 
duce it, and a delicious accompaniment in the Oboes 
and Bassoons, as thus: — 

No. 3a. 

Ob. & Fag. 


2nd Violin, 8pes.a5 




— are quite wonderful. Beethoven gets back out of 
the key of C by one of those sudden changes which 
are so characteristic of this Symphony, and the 
scales (No. 2) begin again in the treble and bass al- 
ternately. They land us in F, in which the third 
subject (No. 3) is repeated by both Wind and 
Strings ; and then, by another new phrase, the origi- 
nal key is regained : — 

No. 4. 

and the Introduction ends. 

The transition from the introduction to the first 
movement proper, the Vivace, by an E sixty-one 
times repeated, and echoed backwards and forwards 
between the Flutes and Oboes and the Violins, 
mixed with groups of semi-quavers, for which the 
last quotation has prepared us, — a passage now lis- 


tened for with delight as one of the most character- 
istic in the whole work, — was for a long time a great 
stumbling-block to the reception of the Symphony 
both in London and Paris. The Vivace itself, into 
which the passage just alluded to leads, is a move- 
ment of wonderful fire and audacity. The principal 
theme, in its character, and in the frequent employ- 
ment of the Oboe, has a quasi-rustic air ; but there 
is nothing rustic about the way in which it is treated 
and developed : on the contrary, it is not surpassed 
in dignity, variety, and richness by any of Beetho- 
ven's first movements./ It is thus given out by the 
Flute:— / 

Flutes. P 
No. 5. ^£r£-,tf_^Ji 

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It is both difficult and presumptuous for any one to 
compare masterpieces so full of beauty and strength, 
and differing so completely in their character, as do 
the nine Symphonies of Beethoven ; but if any one 
quality may be said to distinguish that now before 
us, where all its qualities are so great, it is perhaps, 
as has already been hinted, that fit is the most roman- 
tic of the nine, by which is meant that it is full of 
swift, unexpected changes and contrasts which ex- 
cite the imagination in the highest degree, and whirl 
it suddenly into new and strange regions. There 
are some places in this Vivace where a sudden 
change occurs from fortissimo to pia?iissimo, which 
have an effect unknown elsewhere. A sudden hush 
from ff to pft, in the full hurry and swing of a move- 
ment, is a favorite device of Beethoven's, and is 
always highly effective ; but here the change from 
loud to soft is accompanied by a simultaneous change 
in harmony, or by an interruption of the figure, or a 
bold leap from the top to the bottom of the scale, 
producing the most surprising and irresistible effect, 
wo of the passages referred to may be instanced : — 


no. 6. i — ^ rrj 

Strings. — ' '—' %&- -J- 

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No. 7. j^s, 

In the second example, the resolution of the har- 
mony (the F-sharp and E in the Violins on the F- 
natural) is an invention of Beethoven's, and adds 
greatly to the effect of the plunge through two oc- 
taves, and the sudden hush in the tremolando. A 
similar effect will occur to most hearers, in the Third 
Overture to Leonora (a work which surely deserves 
the epithet of "romantic" as truly as anything in 
music), near the beginning of the Allegro, a sudden 
transition from C major to F-sharp major, accompa- 
nied with a change from loud to soft. But, indeed, 


this Vivace is full of these sudden effects, — especially 
its second portion, — and they give it a distinct char- 
acter from the opening movements of any of the 
other Symphonies. 

What can be more arresting, for instance, than the 
way in which, at the beginning of the second half of 
the movement, after a loud, rough ascent of all the 
Strings in unison, fortissimo, enforced by all the 
Wind in the intervals, also fortissimo, and on a strong 
discord, and accented in the most marked manner 
by two pauses of two bars each, as if every expedi- 
ent to produce roughness had been adopted, the 
First Violins begin whispering pianissimo in the re- 
mote key of C major, and the Basses, four bars later, 
continue the whisper with a mystic dance, all soft 
and weird and truly romantic ? 

We quote a few bars as a guide to the place : — 

No. 8. Wind. 

1st "Violins. 






Another example of the same arresting, romantic 
effect is the sudden change from the key of C-sharp 
to that of' E-flat, earlier in the movement : — 

No. 9. strings 


with the no less sudden escape into E-natural. 

Another is the very characteristic passage of the 
Violins, with which the second subject is empha- 
sized, like a blow into which Beethoven has put all 

his strength : — 

No. 10. 


The second subject itself, in the course of which 
the passage just quoted occurs, begins as follows : — 

Viol, and Flute. 

No. 11. 












v) f sf &c. 

and (recurring to the former rhythm) proceeds : — 


No. 12. 

I J, 1 I 

(«J strings, dolce. 


— stamping itself effectually on the memory by the 
passage quoted as No. io, and by the broad, massive 
phrase (a) in which the subject itself is accompanied 
by the whole of the Strings in unison. 

The rhythm is marked as strongly as possible 
throughout the movement, and there is hardly a bar 
which does not contain its two groups of dotted trip- 
let quavers, varied and treated in the most astonish- 
ingly free and bold manner. When Beethoven does 
once abandon it, in the Coda at the close of the 
movement, it is to introduce the celebrated passage 
which at one time excited the wrath and laughter of 
the best of his contemporaries, though now univer- 


sally regarded as perfectly effective, characteristic, 
and appropriate. In this passage, the Violos and 
Basses repeat the following figure for twenty-two 
bars : — i 

Sjip p f 

cres. &c. 

increasing in force throughout from pianissimo to 
fortissimo, against a "pedal point" on E in the rest 
of the orchestra, three octaves deep from the Bas- 
soons to the high notes of the Flute. It was for 
this that Carl Maria von Weber is said to have pro- 
nounced him " fit for a mad-house." Such mistakes 
are even the best instructed and most genial critics 
open to ! 

Not less strongly marked or less persistent than 
the Vivace is the march of the Allegretto, which is 
all built upon the following incessant rhythm : — 

No. 14. 


or, to use the terms of metre, a dactyl and a spon- 
dee. Here, again, there is hardly a bar in the move- 
ment in which the perpetual stroke of the rhythm is 


not heard ; and yet the feeling of monotony never 
intrudes itself. Here is the opening : — 

No. 15 


The movement is full of melancholy beauties : the 
vague, soft chord in the Wind instruments with 
which it begins and ends (a chord of the 6-4, if one 
must be technical for a moment) ; the incessant beat 
of the rhythmical subject just spoken of; the lovely 
second melody: — 

No. 16. 


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^F l^-ri^-F^F — r-l t-I — f^-j-i^- 








a chain of notes linked in closest succession, like 
a string of beauties hand-in-hand, each afraid to let 
go her hold on her neighbors ; beginning in the Vio- 
las as a mere subordinate accompaniment, but be- 
coming after a while the principal tune of the or- 
chestra. More striking still, perhaps, is the passage 
where the Clarinets come in with a fresh melody, the 
key changing at the same time from A minor to A 
major, and the effect being exactly like a sudden 
gleam of sunshine : — 

No. 17. f-iar. 

One of the interests of this passage is that it may 
have suggested a similar beautiful change (in the 
same key) in the Andante con moto of Mendelssohn's 
Italian Symphony. At any rate, Beethoven himself 
anticipated the change in the Intermezzo of the Fu- 
neral March in the Eroica, where the Oboe preaches 
hope and peace as touchingly as the Clarinet does 


here, with a similar change of mode, too, and a simi- 
lar accompaniment in the Strings. Even this short 
relief, however (but thirty-seven bars), does not ap- 
pear to please the composer : he seems even to push 
it away from him with an absolute gesture of impa- 
tience, — 

No. 18. 

S7 ff n 

■Pf*\ I Brass. * 



Brass. & c . 

almost as if we heard him say the words, " I won't 
have it," — and returns to the key of A minor, and to 
the former melody (No. 16), given in three octaves 
by the Flute, Oboe, and Bassoon, with a semi-quaver 
accompaniment in the Strings. During this, as well 
as during the truly heavenly melody which we have 
been describing and quoting (No. 17), the Bass, with 
a kind of "grim repose," keeps up inexorably the 
rhythm, — 

No. 19. 




— with which the movement started, and maintains it 
even through the fugato which so effectively contin- 
ues the latter half of the movement, 

No. 20. 

Viol. 2. 

as strictly as if its composer had been not Beetho- 
ven, but some mediaeval maker of " canons," to 
whom structure was everything, and fancy nothing. 
No wonder that this Allegretto was encored at the 
first performance of the Symphony, or that it was 
for long one of the few of Beethoven's movements 
that could be endured in Paris "En parlant de 
Beethoven en France," says Berlioz, "on dit V Orage 
de la Symphonie Pastorale, le Final de la Sympho- 
nic en nt mineur, I 'Andante de la Symphonie en la." 
Very good for those early days, but the Concerts 
Populaires are fast curing the Parisians of such ab- 

It may be well to state, on the authority of 

2 4 

Schindler and Nottebohm, that this movement was 
originally entitled Andante, but was altered in the 
MS. parts to Allegretto, which also appears in the 
printed orchestral parts (not published till March, 
1816), and that Beethoven, urged by the frequent 
misunderstandings caused by the new title, desired 
at a later time that the original Andante should be 

The third movement, Presto, with its subsidiary 
Presto meno assai (not entitled Scherzo and Trio, 
though they are so in effect), is no less original, spir- 
ited, and entrainant than the two which have pre- 
ceded it. It opens as follows : — "* 

No. 21.Presto. 10, . . 





in the key of F ; but, before the first fifteen bars are 
well over, it is in A, in which unusually remote key 
the first division ends. Out of this region, Beetho- 
ven escapes by a daring device : — 

No. 22.6trings. 

I ff\ 

which brings him at a blow into C, and pleases him 
so much that he immediately repeats the operation 
in the new key, and so gets into B-flat. The whole 
of this Scherzo is a marvellous example of the grace 
and lightness which may be made to play over a sub- 
stratum of enormous strength, and also of Beetho- 
ven's audacity in repeating his phrases and subjects. 
The 'Trio — Presto meno assai (slightly slower) — is 
an absolute contrast to the Scherzo in every respect. 
It is one of those movements, like the Andante in 
the G major piano-forte Concerto of the same com- 
poser, which are absolutely original, were done by 
no one before, and have been done by no one since. 
It begins with a melody (which it is difficult to be- 


lieve was not floating in Schubert's mind when he 
wrote the first phrase of his Fantaisie-Sonata in G 
for piano-forte solo) in the Clarinets, accompanied as 
a Bass by the Horns and Bassoons, and also by a 
long holding A in the Violins. Of this, we quote an 
outline of the first portion : — 

Viol. 1. 
No. 23. I 




-<s> — -m- 

^"=H E 





^L_^iiJ ^^j±sAi d: 





This melody, which we now know on the perfectly 
trustworthy authority of the Abbe Stadler to have 
been a pilgrims' hymn in, common use in Lower Aus- 
tria, is repeated by the Oboes, with a similar accom- 

The second portion of the Trio is in keeping with 
the first : the long holding A is maintained, but the 
Horn has a more marked part than before, gradually 
increasing in oddness and prominence till it brings 
back the first portion of the tune, this time in the 
full band. The return from this (key of D) to the 
Scherzo (key of F) is as affecting and "romantic" a 
point as can be found in the whole Symphony. The 


extension given to this movement by the double repe- 
tition of the Trio has already been spoken of. 

The Finale is not less full of fiery genius, caprice, 
and effect than the other movements, nor is it less 
characteristic ot its author, though it contains fewer 
of those sudden " romantic " changes which (as we 
have very imperfectly attempted to show) distinguish 
the earlier portions of the work. It reflects less of 
the sentiment, and more of the prodigious force and 
energy, and the grim, rough, humorous aspect of 
Beethoven, abrupt and harsh in his outward manner 
and speech. In the preceding movements, this out- 
ward harshness less rarely appears. Force and vigor 
they exhibit in every bar, but it is rather the general 
nature of the man, — that well-spring of loveliness 
and grace which lay deep beneath his exterior, his 
splendid and varied imagination, his command of 
beauty, and his sense of awe and mystery that dis- 
tinguish the Allegro, Allegretto, and Scherzo. In the 
Finale, however, his more obvious external charac- 
teristics have their sway. " Beethoven," says Spohr, 
" was often a little hard, not to say raw, in his ways ; 
but he carried a kindly eye under his bushy eye- 
brows." It is this side of his character which ap- 
pears to be reflected in the Finale. It begins with 
four bars of loud chords from the orchestra (of which 
much use is made subsequently), followed by the 


strange, somewhat furious, and at first hearing not 
attractive subject: — 

No. ^.Allegro con brio 

Then, after a reference back to the initial four bars 
of the movement, a new subject appears, as harsh 
and uncompromising as that already quoted, and 
leading into a modification of it : — 

No. 25. _@_ .^ _^_ 




* -*- 








Viol. 2. Viol. 8ve lower. 




This is continued in a series of phrases of dotted 
quavers, all hard and harsh, ending in C-sharp minor, 
in which key the " second subject" proper appears, 
full of vigor and elasticity : — 






P'f P^f P f P 

Notice the humorous octaves in the Bassoon, and 
the force obtained by throwing the accent on to the 
latter half of the bar in the last four measures of 
the quotation. In this rhythirrthere is some charm- 
ing capricious work, from top to bottom of the scale 
among the Strings, after which the first half of the 
Finale ends. The movement is in the ordinary sym- 
phonic form. The first portion is repeated, and then 
the working out commences. And here the wild 
humor and fun distance anvthins: that has srone be- 
fore. The abrupt transitions and sudden vagaries, 
like rough jokes and loud peals of laughter, — founded 


on the phrase marked (a) in quotation No. 24, — are 
irresistible, and bring Beethoven before us in his 
most playful, unconstrained, or, as he himself used 
to phrase it, " unbuttoned " state of mind : — 

No. 27 



A somewhat similar picture will be recollected in 
the Coda of the Finale to the Eighth Symphony. In 
each of these, one feels one's self, as it were, buffeted 
from side to side, with no more power of resistance 
than a baby in the hands of a giant. And this 
humor pervades the greater part of the movement, 
till the conclusion is approached, when, during along 
Coda, the great master lays aside his animal spirits 
and rough jokes, and surrenders himself to graver 
and more solemn impressions, graver even than those 
which inspired him during the conclusion of the. first 
movement of this noble Symphony, in connection 
with which we have already referred to the passage 
we are now considering. This is, like that, a mov- 
ing pedal, on E, alternating with D-sharp, and last- 
ing for more than twenty bars. During the whole 
of these, and the preceding passage of equal length, 
where the Bass settles down semitone by semitone, 
till it reaches the low E, the Strings are occupied by 
imitations and repetitions of the original figure (No. 
24), and the Wind by long holding notes, the whole 
forming a passage of unrivalled pathos, nobility, and 

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